January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

Mavis Staples and Lucky Peterson

Staples has one of the more potent voices of modern soul, but her roots are in gospel. On Spirituals & Gospel, which is dedicated to the late gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, Staples goes back home. She and organist Peterson approach the traditional spirituals and modern gospel standards with a quiet dignity. There are no elaborate flourishes, no mind-boggling melismata or flashy solos. On “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” Staples is alternately playful and prayerful as her husky, emotional alto joins with Peterson’s sparse fills to deliver the message of salvation. In an age of high-concept partnerships and mega-platinum acts, Spirituals & Gospel stands out because it’s so obviously a labor of love and because it is so very good. (Verve)

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